Characters: Parks and Recreation
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Leslie Barbara Knope (Amy Poehler)
“It is my dream to build a park that I one day visit with my White House staff on my birthday. And they say, ‘President Knope, this park is awesome. Now we understand why you’re the first female president of the United States.’”Leslie is the deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in Pawnee, Indiana. An Inverted Trope of the Obstructive Bureaucrat, Leslie is a cheerful bureaucrat full of can-do spirit. This makes her The Pollyanna on a show where almost everyone else is cynical and jaded to one degree or another. She is also a Determinator.
- Afraid of Needles: To the point of making a Precision F-Strike against Ann.
- All-Loving Hero: Edging closer to this trope as her Determinator qualities make her more and more effective.
- Ambition Is Evil: Averted! Leslie is extremely ambitious (just read the above quotation), but she is also very moral. In some episodes, she is presented with an immoral way to achieve one of her goals and considers using it, but ultimately she ends up feeling guilty and doesn’t go through with it.
- Badass: She has her moments, never forget that she’s a capable hunter.
- Bad Liar: Honest to a fault, Leslie’s rare attempts at subterfuge invariably fall flat. In many cases, she ends up ratting herself out.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat:
- This becomes especially apparent in “Christmas Scandal,” where it’s shown that her duties are so numerous that the combined efforts of all six of her coworkers can’t get the job done.
- Her overextension is given attention again in “Sweet Sixteen,” where Ron states that she’s been pulling 100 hours a week trying to give equal attention to her job and her city council campaign. Throughout the episode she keeps making minor blunders due to neglecting something from either side of her professional life. At the end of the episode she decides to reduce her time at her day job to ten hours per week.
- Berserk Button: Do not feed J.J.'s waffles to your dog around Leslie.
- Big Eater: When it comes to waffles, whipped cream, sugar, or all of the above, Leslie’s essentially a bottomless pit.
- Big Stupid Doodoo Head: She'll resort to childish insults like this when she's really frustrated.
Leslie: I don't like to throw around the word "butthead", because it loses its impact when you say "butthead" too much. But I can say without hesitation that Tom is being a real dick.
- She subverts it rather nicely in "Meet 'n' Greet":
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: She’s very good at her job, and probably should have Ron’s. On the other hand, she is also an extremely eccentric Woman Child.
- Catch Phrase:Leslie: It’s every girl’s dream to [something incredibly wonky, obscure and/or over-specific].
Leslie: Ann, you [insert strangely condescending comment that compliments her beauty but points out her naïveté].
- Character Development: Leslie had some Michael Scott-ish aspects to her personality in Season 1, but in Season 2 the character became much less obnoxious, and more of a hyper-competent, upbeat Pollyanna.
- Cloud Cuckoolander
- Determinator: Best exemplified by her masterful oration of her speech intended to attract sponsors to Harvest Festival. All while she was near delirious with the flu, and quickly reverted to sickness-induced delirium during a short Q&A session.
- This is Leslie’s great weakness as well as her strength. In many episodes the conflict can be summarized as ‘Leslie’s friends have to convince her that she can’t change a situation she considers unacceptable.’ Of course, she is so hypercompetent that she frequently finds ways to improve the situation anyway.
- Summarized nicely in “The Smallest Park” when Ann interrupts Leslie’s complaints about how unfair it is to call her a steamroller:Ann: You’re a steamroller! You’re a massive, enormous, runaway steamroller with no brakes and a cement brick on the gas pedal!
- Summarized nicely in “The Smallest Park” when Ann interrupts Leslie’s complaints about how unfair it is to call her a steamroller:
- This is Leslie’s great weakness as well as her strength. In many episodes the conflict can be summarized as ‘Leslie’s friends have to convince her that she can’t change a situation she considers unacceptable.’ Of course, she is so hypercompetent that she frequently finds ways to improve the situation anyway.
- Distaff Counterpart: Back in the first season, critics tended to dismiss Leslie as ‘Michael Scott in a skirt,’ but it’s generally agreed that she became more her own character after the series Grew the Beard, as unlike Michael Scott, she is not only good at her job, but totally deserved to have been promoted into it.
- Does Not Like Salad: Or other disgusting things.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Starts out the show as an incompetent Michael Scott expy. In the second season she becomes a hyper-competent determinator Pollyanna.
- Expository Hairstyle Change:
- Wears a small, very tight French braid in her hair curving around the top of her head in “Jerry’s Painting,” apparently because she takes very well to being compared to a Greek goddess.
- She gains another new hairstyle later on to emphasize the season 6 finale/season 7 Time Skip, but she quickly reverts to her original hairdo a few episodes into season 7.
- Fangirl: When it comes to Harry Potter. She made best friend Ann watch all eight movies even though she doesn’t like Harry Potter.
- She’s also a huge fangirl for Joe Biden and most prominent American women in politics, to the point of covering the walls of her office with their pictures. She’s also a type of geek rarely portrayed in the media, the government policy wonk.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
- Glurge Addict: Mildly. She really likes cute things, but not to an annoying degree.Leslie: Scientifically hummingbirds are the world’s cutest animals. I mean, they’re so small, they have tiny beaks and they only eat sugar water. I mean what beats that? Come on. Baby monkeys in diapers? Yeah … they do. Baby monkeys in diapers are the cutest.
- Go-Getter Girl: Has the ambitious, driven personality down pat.
- Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Despite her very ambitious nature, Leslie is extremely nice and many of her goals are motivated by caring for her friends and the citizens of Pawnee.
- Happily Married: To Ben as of mid-Season 5.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Ann.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: A rare example of the lead character fitting this trope. This suits her boss just fine.
- The Idealist
- Immigrant Patriotism: During her campaign, Leslie is stunned to learn that she was actually born in Eagleton, not Pawnee, partly because she hates Eagleton and partly because most of the voters hate Eagleton. As she thinks about it further, though, she realizes that it’s the choice to continue living in and trying to improve Pawnee that really matters, and manages to communicate that to the voters. (Also, you know, the reason she was born in Eagleton was that although her parents lived in Pawnee, Pawnee’s hospital was overrun with raccoons at the time, and Eagleton’s hospital was the only one nearby that was in a reasonably good state.)
- The Knights Who Say Squee: To Michelle Obama, among others.
- Meaningful Name: Subverted. "Knope" is the perfect name for an Obstructive Bureaucrat... except that Leslie is as far from an Obstructive Bureaucrat as you can get.
- Nice Girl: Despite her faults, Leslie is overall a very kind-hearted person who constantly does nice things for her friends and goes out of her way to help others. Ron puts it best when he says, “Leslie has a lot of qualities I find horrifying, but the worst one by far is how thoughtful she can be.”
- Number Two: Officially, she is this to Ron, but she actually does all the work.
- Oblivious to Love: Initially, regarding Ben’s interest in her.
- Official Couple: With Ben.
- Platonic Life Partners: With Ron.
- Plucky Girl: The absolute poster girl for the trope.
- The Pollyanna
- Pungeon Master: Most definitely this. Notable examples include her top soil brochure "Mulch Ado About Nothing" and the rules she instated at the Farmer's Market (like "Peas be kind to others" and "In case of fire, romaine calm"). In her words, she hates vegetables but is really good at vegetable puns.
- Real Women Never Wear Dresses: Leslie is a competent golfer and hunter, and she almost always dresses in a masculine manner, but considering that appearing to be ‘too feminine’ is a concern for women in the real world for business and politics, this is very much a Justified Trope.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Energetic girl to Ben’s savvy guy.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Kind of. She’s not full of herself, but she’s convinced that her municipal government job is much more important than it really is. She also has no doubt that she will one day be president of the United States.
- Increasingly looks like this will be averted completely, as her work is getting her more attention — at least from local Pawnee politicians.
- Ultimately averted; in a flash forward to 2048 she and Ben are depicted as having a Secret Service detail, implying that she apparently did indeed become President (although the episode does leave open the possibility it was Ben, its more likely to be her).
- Increasingly looks like this will be averted completely, as her work is getting her more attention — at least from local Pawnee politicians.
- Sweet Tooth: She puts sugar on pasta.
- Trademark Favorite Food: She piles whipped cream onto everything. She also loves Belgian waffles, specifically the ones from JJ’s Diner.
- Weirdness Magnet: Somewhat. She’s seldom had a ‘normal’ date — something extremely outlandish happens, or the date himself is outlandish. Incidents include a blazing dress, an Ambien overdose, a date sticking his hand in her mouth as she slept, and a free MRI.note As far as we’ve seen, Dave and Ben are the only men she’s dated without some kind of off-putting quirk or glaring character flaw.
- A slightly off-putting quirk of Dave’s came out when he briefly returns to Pawnee and confesses his love to Leslie, and then handcuffs Ben to a urinal.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Happens whenever she tries to do an accent or an imitation. Here are some examples.
- White Guilt: Shows occasional signs of this, especially when dealing with Ken Hotate, the local Native American leader, who likes to invoke Everything Is Racist cheerfully to provoke this reaction and get his way. She largely outgrows it in later interactions with him.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Much to Ron's endless annoyance, and failed attempts to beat it out of her.
- Woman Child: Leslie is cheerful, hyperactive, and a little naïve. Not to mention her fondness for candy and dislike of vegetables. She is competent, however — indeed, very competent.Ann (in a deleted scene): Leslie is incredible. She has the energy of a ten year-old. And the same taste in snacks.
- Workaholic: At one point Ron has to lock her in a room so she can actually sleep because she's working herself so hard. The next morning she excitedly says that she slept seven hours, which is about twice as long as she normally does. Hell, in “Citizen Knope” she attempts to steal some work from the office to do at home during her paid suspension.
Ann Meredith Perkins (Rashida Jones)
“The Parks Department has done so much for me that if I can help them out in any way, I will. Oh, God. Maybe I should just give them all free flu shots.”Leslie’s Heterosexual Life Partner. They first meet in the pilot episode, when Ann attended a town hall meeting to bring an abandoned construction pit to the government’s attention. For the first three seasons, Ann was a nurse at the local hospital, making it somewhat baffling that she seemed to spend so much time with the other characters at City Hall. Eventually, she was given a part-time job at City Hall to solve this problem. She is generally a Straight Woman.
- Ambiguously Brown: Obviously applies to any character played by Rashida Jones, who is black and Jewish.Leslie: I’ve said this to you before and I know it makes you uncomfortable, but you’re thoughtful and you’re brilliant. And your ambiguous ethnic blend perfectly represents the dream of the American melting pot.
- Back for the Finale
- Big Eater: She apparently once consumed an entire cheesecake at Leslie’s request, commenting only that it was delicious and that she would have eaten ten if asked.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: She notably fails when she attempts to be funny, often saying an awkward joke and then immediately regretting it and kicking herself under her breath.Leslie: Oh Ann, you're too beautiful to be funny. It's not your fault. You've never had to compensate for anything.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Colors a few locks of her hair bright red in an attempt to impress Chris in “Camping.”
- Extreme Doormat: Definitely has elements of this. She’s very passive compared to Leslie and is always pulled into Leslie’s plans. Also, due to the Florence Nightingale Effect and Weakness Turns Her On, she’s very inclined to allow boyfriends to take advantage of her.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
- Florence Nightingale Effect: Ann is clearly shown to be attracted to vulnerable and sickly men. She waited on Andy hand and foot when his legs broke, and tries to coddle and protect him like a child, and kisses him when he ends up in the hospital again. She was also incredibly threatened and uncomfortable by Chris being almost completely perfect, until he got a nasty case of the flu, which made her ecstatic.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Leslie.
- Hospital Hottie: Not that she actually spends much time working there.
- Mistaken for Gay: As a Running Gag, she and Leslie are repeatedly mistaken for a lesbian couple.
- Official Couple: With Chris as of Season 5.
- One-Hour Work Week: Ann’s nursing job. The show is a Work Com, it’s just not dedicated to her work. Occasionally we see her at her work, usually whenever a main character ends up in the hospital. Ann getting a part-time job at the city’s health department as of the end of Season 3 is most likely an attempt to avert this trope.
- Of course since this is a Mockumentary, we can assume it is all done off-screen and has been edited out.
- Put on a Bus
- Really Gets Around: She finally learns how to put her looks to good use in season three, and is shown with at least one new paramour every episode of that season.
- Shipper on Deck: Ann really, really wants Leslie and Ben to get together (and even sneaks an Al Green song onto their road trip mix, which is designed to be as un-sexy as possible).
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: A mild case. Being so beautiful, she’s never been dumped before. When Chris breaks up with her, his positive personality and strange wording plus her inexperience make her not realize it until a week later and she is blindsided by it. As Leslie put it in an earlier episode:Leslie: Ann, I always forget you’re so pretty you’re not used to rejection!
- Straight Woman
- Weakness Turns Her On: As indicated by her finding Chris more attractive when she was caring for him than when he was a perfect human specimen. This also explains her relationship with Andy and why it didn’t work out with Mark.
- What Does She See in Him?: Ann goes through as many lame, unattractive boyfriends as attractive ones in season three. Leslie has to call her out on it in “The Fight” when her current guy happens to be the Douche.
- This was the crux of her relationship with Andy in Season 1, who at that point was such a Jerkass that he intentionally delayed getting his cast removed for two weeks just to have her keep waiting on him.
Thomas Montgomery Haverford (Aziz Ansari)
“I had to call in a few favors, but if you don’t call in favors to look at women in bikinis and assign them numerical grades, what the hell do you call in favors for?”Tom is Leslie’s immediate subordinate, in charge of scheduling parks activities and an aspiring media mogul. Networking, hot women, expensive suits, hot women, slacking off, and hot women are just a few of his favorite things. As of the end of Season 6, he runs an Italian restaurant, Tom’s Bistro.
- Always Second Best: He has a sort of inferiority complex for Ron, which came to a boiling point in “Go Big or Go Home.”
- Beta Couple: With his former ex, Lucy, in season 7. While it's not confirmed, it's implied they get married in the future after he proposed the episode before.
- Butt Monkey: Defaults into this after Jerry’s retirement, before revealing to Ron that he was the Jerry at his old job before moving to Pawnee and reinventing himself.
- Camp Straight: Despite his Handsome Lech personality, he invests in a gay bar, wears pink shirts, and drinks stereotypically ‘gay’ drinks. Leslie lampshades this in “Pawnee Zoo”:Leslie: Okay, so I know you’re not gay.
Tom: No, I’m not.
Leslie: But you’re very effeminate.
Leslie: Well, you’re wearing a shirt with a coiled snake on it.
- Can't Hold His LiquorDetlef Schrempf: He had two beers. Light beers.
- Oddly, in what may be an Out-of-Character Moment, he isn’t shown to be terribly intoxicated by his invention Snakejuice, which has terrible aftereffects for the rest of the cast (especially Ron). Though he still ends up drunk.
- Casanova Wannabe: Sometimes to the point of real pathos.
- Character Development: Over the seasons, he becomes more mature, confident, and self-reliant.
- Characterization Marches On: Season 1 Tom is far more straitlaced, with only a few of the quirks he’d have later on, with most of the humor around him being focused on his South Asian heritage and being Leslie’s Number Two. Season 2 added in the love of style, ramped up the perverted aspects and gave him far more screen time with other characters.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Is actually the one to tell Ben they should make sure a drunken Joan Callamezzo gets safely home from lunch with them.
- Citizenship Marriage: His wife Wendy. Despite him being brown-skinned and her being white, she was the one who needed the green card. She’s Canadian.
- The Dandy: He has a full-sized room for a closet and explicitly states that he wears pink for the sake of “peacocking”.
- Deadpan Snarker: With a much greater emphasis on ‘snarker; there is little ‘deadpan’ about Tom.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
- Hypocritical Humor: Despite his obsession with being trendy and stylish, he is repeatedly shown to be woefully out of touch with what is actually trendy and stylish.
- It's All About Me: Has a big, big problem with this. It’s on full display in “Meet ’N’ Greet,” where he turns an event for Leslie to get to know local business owners into an investment pitch for his company Entertainment 720. While he did it because E720 was bankrupt and he was desperate for funds, it also wasn’t particularly out of character.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As Leslie puts it, “Tom Haverford is a selfish, sleazy, self-promoting, good-hearted, secretly kind and wonderful tiny, little person.”
- Man Child: Seems to have the mentality of a fifteen-year-old boy.
- Mock Millionaire: Comes up often but particularly emphasized during the Entertainment 720 arc, when he and Jean-Ralphio carelessly spent money on buying excessive props and hiring attractive women as surplus employees while not doing any actual work or generating revenue for their company.
- The Nicknamer
- Odd Friendship: Andy and Ben are both about as far from him personality-wise as possible, each for very different reasons, but he hangs out with both of them a lot. A later episode even shows that he considers them more of his true friends than the almost identical Jean-Ralphio.
- Pet the Dog: After Leslie tears up the Venezuelans check in “Sister City,” Tom secretly takes all the tips he earned making himself the Venezuelans’ errand boy and donates it all toward the park fund.
- Pretty Fly for an Indian Guy: At one point, Tom mentions having carefully cultivating a Jay-Z vibe and once dressed up as the rapper T-Pain for Halloween. He’s also fond of using the slang term “boo” to refer to a significant other.
- Popularity Polynomial: In-Universe: Finds himself the victim of this compared to Ben in the episode “Prom.” His taste in music is out of touch with high school students.
- Schemer: He’s always involved in some plan or invention to get fabulously wealthy, but none of them works until the bistro, which lasts for several years until it goes under. Then he writes a massively successful self help book by drawing on his past experiences.
- Self-Deprecation: Will not deny that he rides others’ coattails.Tom: Behind every successful man is me: smiling and taking partial credit.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Full force.
- This Is My Name on Foreign: His birth name is Darwish Sabir Ismael Gani, but he changed it since he thought people with “funny-sounding Muslim names” didn’t have a chance in politics. He admits this reason is Hilarious in Hindsight after Barack Obama.
- Took a Level in Badass/Took a Level in Kindness: After his failure with Entertainment 720, he successfully manages to run a small suit-rental business before being bought out by a competitor. He now works in City Government to help bring outside businesses to Pawnee, impressing Ron and Leslie. He’s also noticeably less selfish.
- Particularly noticeable in Season 6, where he successfully used his own talent for marketing to beat Councilman Jamm at his own game.
Ronald Ulysses Swanson (Nick Offerman)
“My idea of a perfect government is one guy who sits in a small room at a desk, and the only thing he’s allowed to decide is who to nuke. The man is chosen based on some kind of IQ test, and maybe also a physical tournament, like a decathlon. And women are brought to him, maybe … when he desires them.”Leslie’s manly, mustachioed, unapologetically libertarian boss who, engaged in a continuous attempt to sabotage the Pawnee government, secretly (or not-so-secretly) tries to stop anything from getting done. Leslie basically does his job for him, allowing him to devote his time to being a Memetic Badass.
- Acquired Poison Immunity: His family have their own brand of moonshine that can only be legally used to strip varnish off speedboats. This is the only plausible reason why he can knock back so much alcohol yet never get hung over. (Tom’s Snakejuice got him drunk, but he suffered no ill effects the morning after.)
- Adorkable: Surprisingly enough, he can slip pretty hard into this when he's enthusiastic about something.
- Ambiguous Disorder: He struggles with social interaction and emotional expression, dislikes physical contact, has stated his difficulty with and distaste for jokes, and is quietly hostile towards most changes in his life.
- Annoying Laugh: Despite his unabashed masculinity, he titters like a schoolgirl on the few occasions where he does laugh.
- Badass: One of the central aspects of his character is how incredibly badass he is. To put into perspective just how insane he is, every onscreen fight he’s been involved in has ended in a single punch.
- Beta Couple: With Diane as of Season 5.
- Big Eater: Especially in regards to red meat and breakfast meals; all other foodstuffs are treated with suspicion, or outright derision. The only thing that interests him in a strip club is the breakfast buffet. He says that if he does not have at least three breakfast meals a day, he acts like a tired whiny child. He has an enormous picture of bacon and eggs framed in his office.Ron: Just give me all the bacon and eggs you have … Wait, wait. I worry what you just heard was, “Give me a lot of bacon and eggs.” What I said was, “Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.” Do you understand?
- He can eat a party platter meant to feed 12 people in four minutes.
- He also holds a number of records around Pawnee for eating large amounts of food very quickly.Ron: Why is everyone else so bad at eating?
- Birthday Hater: He hates birthdays so much that he has gone to great lengths to keep anyone from finding out his own, including having it redacted from all government documents. Needless to say, he is not pleased when Leslie discovers his.“I don’t like loud noises. And people making a fuss. And I especially don’t like people celebrating because they know a piece of private information about me. Plus the whole thing is a scam — birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards.”
- Breakout Character: So much. He’s by far the most popular character among fans, and some TV critics have called him the best sitcom character since Cosmo Kramer.
- The Cast Showoff: Nick Offerman actually is a woodworker. He also plays saxophone.
- Catch Phrase: “Bully.”
- Characterization Marches On: Early Ron Swanson doesn’t share Season 2-onwards Ron’s Rated M for Manly aspects or begrudging respect for Leslie.
- By Season 6, Ron is prepared to describe the National Parks Service as “the only branch of the government that doesn’t completely suck.”
- By Season 7, Ron finally accepts a job in the federal government, as Superintendent of Pawnee's National Park.
- By Season 6, Ron is prepared to describe the National Parks Service as “the only branch of the government that doesn’t completely suck.”
- Crazy-Prepared: Keeps a survival backpack hidden in a ventilation grate down the hall.
- Taken Up to Eleven when Ron retrieves the bag after his first ex-wife shows up. It’s labeled, indicating that Ron prepared it specifically to escape from Tammy One.
- All that gold he has buried? Most of it is fake gold just in case someone manages to figure out where they're hidden.
- Comically Missing the Point: The reason his favorite book is Moby-Dick?"No frou-frou symbolism. Just a good, simple tale about a man who hates an animal.”
- Deadpan Snarker: He is often sarcastic toward his coworkers and people in general, it is actually one of the many things he has in common with April.
- Drink Order: Scotch. Specifically Lagavulin 16-year, neat.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Inverted. While he doesn’t hate them, after his relationship with Tammy One, he only dates dark-haired women because she ruined blondes for him.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- Happily Married: To Diane as of the beginning of Season 6.
- Hates Being Touched
- Healing Factor: Specifically, his hair. No matter what happens to Ron's hair, it always grows back by the next couple of episodes, especially his mustache. At one point he runs off to hide in the woods, and three weeks later when Leslie comes looking for him he's sprouted a massive mountain-man beard that would take a lesser mortal years to grow.
- Henpecked Husband: Around Tammy One.
- Hidden Depths: Ron moonlights as jazz saxophonist “Duke Silver” and plays in clubs outside Pawnee. He's really good in general with woodwind instruments and is very good at crafting flutes and recorders (which he then sells to a loony doomsday cult because they always play them at their end-of-the-world vigils).
- Hypocritical Humor: “When I buried gold in my backyard, I promised myself I would not be miserly with it.”
- Iconic Outfit: Red shirt and black pants after he's had sex. According to Tom, the same as Tiger Woods wears when he feels invincible.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He may act like he hates all his coworkers, but he’s shown on more than one occasion that if any of them is seriously hurting or in trouble, he’ll be there for them.
- Kavorka Man: Not considered especially attractive, but still manages to attract many women with his gruff personality.
- Like Parent, Like Spouse: Has two ex-wives and a mother named Tammy.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Hanging around Tammy One turns him into a complete wuss. Tammy Two turns him into a raging sex fiend.
- Made of Iron: In “Hunting Trip,” he takes a shotgun blast to the back of the head, and spends the rest of the episode more angry than debilitated.
- Manly Tears: He’s only ever cried twice. The first time was when a bus ran into him as a child. The second was when he first learned of Li’l Sebastian’s death. He very nearly cries a third time in “Citizen Knope” in reaction to Leslie’s Christmas gift — remote-controlled closing doors for his office.
- Mentor Archetype: He essentially mentors the entire cast to varying degrees.
- Morality Pet: Andy has slowly been softening him up.
- Non-Idle Rich: Ron owns so much gold that the five percent he plans to leave to each of his kids is considered a lot of money. He’s an odd example: he does nothing at work, but builds as much of his possessions as he can.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: He acts as one on purpose in a (thanks to Leslie’s hyper-competence) questionably effective attempt to make the government as useless as possible.
- Odd Friendship: In a completely unprecedented turn of events, Ron actually becomes good friends with Typhoon by bonding over their mutual hatred of Eurotrash and faddish bicycles. Ron was actually the best man at his wedding.
- One-Man Army: Nothing can keep him down.
- Only Sane Man: He doesn’t get involved in his coworkers’ hijinks.
- Papa Wolf: While initially unconcerned with Gryzzl's datamining, the moment his son's privacy becomes an issue he goes on the offensive.
- Patriotic Fervor: Of course. Here’s what he thinks of Canada. Ron especially hates anything resembling Commie Land.
- He does, however, actually come to like the Scottish Highlands after Leslie sends him there to visit the Lagavulin distillery. He later buys the distillery (or a share in it, anyway)..
- Perpetual Frowner: Even when he’s being nice, he’s stern. The only thing that makes him smile is the collapse of the Pawnee government.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: "Is Star Wars the one with the little wizard boy?"
- Professional Slacker: He basically lets Leslie run the department, which she is only too happy to do. Ron, as a fierce super-libertarian, is actually ideologically opposed to the government accomplishing things; the one time he is seen actually working with enthusiasm is when the city needs ideas on how to slash its budget.
- Rated M for Manly
- Real Men Eat Meat: To the point that he thinks fish are acceptable to catch, but not to eat since “fish meat is practically a vegetable”.
- Ron is also the inventor of the “Turf and Turf.” This is a 16-ounce T-bone steak lightly garnished with a 24-ounce Porterhouse.
- In one episode, he is seen eating a turkey leg wrapped in bacon and guess what's it called?note
- Secretly Wealthy: Apparently owns a massive amount of gold and cash. So much so that, according to his attorney, the five per cent he plans to leave his step-children is considered a huge inheritance.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The manly man to Chris’ sensitive guy.
- Sliding Scale of Libertarianism and Authoritarianism: As indicated by the above quote, Ron’s political philosophy falls quite far on the libertarian side. He has explicitly referred to himself as a libertarian a number of times and sees no value in government-run institutions to the point of wanting everything privatized. Unfortunately for him, Leslie always has ambitious plans to expand the Parks Department. Hilarity Ensues.
- Starter Villain: He was initially the Big Bad of Season 7, until him and Leslie reconciled in "Leslie & Ron". Now Gryzzl itself is the Big Bad.
- Team Dad: Begrudgingly.
- 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: In “Hunting Trip.”
- Trademark Favorite Food: Red meat (especially steaks and burgers), breakfast food, and Scotch whisky.
- Tsundere: Clearly towards Diane in Season 5.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: He intends to leave the bulk of his money to the person or animal that kills him.
April Roberta Ludgate-Dwyer (Aubrey Plaza)
“No, I didn’t win, but at least I didn’t make any new friendships.”April is The Snark Knight. Originally, she was an apathetic college intern who constantly slacked off and seemed like she would rather be anywhere else. In the second season, she was hired as Ron’s assistant specifically to stonewall anyone wishing to meet with him. Near the end of the fourth season, it’s revealed that, while she generally hates people, April loves animals and realizes that this might be her calling. In Season 5, the incompetent Animal Control Department is absorbed by the Parks Department and April is appointed director of the new sub-department.
- Ambiguously Bi: She expresses interest in going to a strip club, and thinks Jerry’s painting of topless Leslie is hot.
- Ascended Extra: In season 1 April’s relevant to the plot all of twice and even then tangentially, even though Aubrey Plaza got regular-cast credit from the beginning. Mid-Season 2 onwards she becomes one of the most focused-on characters in the main cast.
- Aside Glance: Due to the format, all the characters do it from time to time, but the aside glance appears to be April’s primary form of communication.
- Babies Ever After: With Andy in the Distant Finale.
- Beta Couple: With Andy after they become a couple. She is the youngest, most cynical, and apathetic of the main female characters and is ironically the first of them to get married.
- Be Yourself: In Season 5 she gets put into the public spotlight more and more as a representative for the parks department. At first she imitates Leslie as a way to get through her presentations, since Leslie has always been good at that sort of thing and it helps her deal with her nerves, but April realizes that Leslie’s methods don’t work for her and simply starts acting like herself. While this gets complaints for excessive rudeness, she is much more successful than she ever was imitating Leslie.
- Character Development: Her character arc starts in earnest in Season 4 and continues into Season 5 as she realizes that she can’t be a complete jerk to everyone and attempts earnestly to forge a career. Besides that, April becomes more outgoing and eccentric as the show goes on, most prominently after marrying Andy.
- The Cynic: Starts off the most cynical character in the show, however she eventually grows to be more encouraging and optimistic occasionally towards those she cares about at least
- Dare to Be Badass: She encourages Andy to pursue his dreams.
- Deadpan Snarker: Easily the best example on the show.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: April starts to open up in season two.
- Dismotivation: She and Ron get along well.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: April Roberta Ludgate-Dwyer.
- Embarrassing Nick Name: Her parents call her “Zuzu”.
- Emotionless Girl: Up to Eleven. Getting her to express any emotion besides scathing sarcasm is quite rare.
- Fag Hag: Until midway into season two, she constantly hangs out with her “gay boyfriend” and his boyfriend.April: Derek is gay but he’s straight for me but he’s gay for Ben and Ben’s really gay for Derek. And I hate Ben.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- Fourth Date Marriage: Married Andy after dating a month.
- Growing Up Sucks: Firmly believes so, as demonstrated in “Jerry’s Painting.” Its down to this she's immature, however Andy manages to convince her by the end it doesn't have to.
- Happily Married: To Andy. For a give definition of ‘Happy’ in her case, anyway.
- Hipster: Of course, with her snarky attitude. Her favorite band is Neutral Milk Hotel, and aside from that, she only listens to German Death Reggae or Halloween sound effects records from the 1950s.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: April's a pretty big jerk, she enjoys mocking Jerry, openly dislikes Anne, has little respect for the rules and claims to hate everyone. However she does have a softer side, particularly towards Ron, Andy and later Leslie.
- Large Ham: Whenever she acts in-show, like when she pretended to be a rich, vampish widow at a bar.
- Woman Child: Among other examples, she buys toys instead of household items at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
- The Matchmaker: Much to her own dismay, she finds herself helping couples get together. April is the one who pairs up Tom and Ann, much to her regret as they annoy her later with their relationship problems. She also tries to set up Chris, still sad from breaking up with Jerry’s daughter Millicent, with Andy’s women’s studies professor. She ends up sleeping with Ron instead.
- Morality Pet: Andy in a way has helped in her gradual defrosting. Notably her time with him leads her to reject her two gay boyfriends due to being annoyed by how artificial their hipster ways were.
- Nightmare Fetishist: To an incredible degree, examples include being happy at having fake blood splattered over, wanting to live in a house that used to house the insane, and being more interested in the horrible and disgusting effects would have on her body than actually having a child. Donna even calls her "Satan's daughter."
- Odd Friendship: She is quite close with Leslie despite them having completely opposite personalities. Her initial friendship with Andy in Season 2 could also count, however after they get married they become more The Odd Couple.
- Opposites Attract: With peppy, dorky jock and rock singer Andy.
- Pet the Dog: Guilty over successfully wishing misfortune upon Chris in “Bowling for Votes,” she offers to take him to the movies with her and Andy with the tickets she won in the donation phone pool.
- Literally in season three. Andy and April adopt a three-legged dog named Champion. She adores him, states he’s one of the few things she cares about, and eventually admits that helping homeless animals get adopted is one of the few things that could get her passionate about a boring, administrative job.
- In Season 6, when she believes Larry to be very ill, she tries hard to be nice to him, to the point of actually reaching into his shirt and scratching his back for him.
- Professional Slacker: About as literal as possible. It’s the whole reason Ron hires her.Ron: I don’t care that you text all day and sleep at your desk. In fact, I encourage it.
- Put on a Bus: The possibility is toyed with in Season 3, when Chris offers to take her back to Indianapolis with him to be his assistant.
- Sarcastic Confession: In her words: “The truth is stupid. I only tell the truth when it makes me sound like I’m lying.”
- Sassy Secretary: And Ron likes it that way.
- Secret Secret Keeper: Reveals to Ron that she’s aware of his double life as Duke Silver, as her mother has all of his albums and she recognized him the second they met.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: April, being played by Aubrey Plaza, always looks pretty, but usually gives the impression that she doesn’t care about her personal appearance. The handful of times she dresses up, like in “2017,” she looks unbelievable.
- Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Similar to Ann’s One-Hour Work Week. April is a college student, but this isn’t mentioned very often and she never seems to have to be in class, which implies that whatever college she’s attending is close enough for her to be at the office so often during the day.
- In the tie-in book Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America, April says she only takes one course a semester at Pawnee Community College.
- Spicy Latina: She acknowledges the trope while averting it with extreme prejudice.April: My mom’s Puerto Rican. That’s why I’m so lively and colorful.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: April's cold, aloof and sometimes quite callous and anti social. However she also has a sweeter side, which she occasionally shows to those she cares about.
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: She has a tendency to blurt out her feelings “I’m bored!” or “I’m cranky!” Her facial expression barely changes, however.
- Trickster Archetype: Enjoys being pointlessly contradictory and playing pranks. Might have something to do with a particularly ruthless Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry.
- Why Did It Have to Be Spiders?: She has that arachnocornucopia thing.
- Will They or Won't They?: With Andy during the second season.
- Yaoi Fangirl:
Mark Brendanawicz (Paul Schneider)
“I hit rock bottom that night. I mean I literally fell to the bottom of a pit and hit a rock. I remember laying there [sic] thinking, ‘There’s probably a good reason why I’m down here.’ And then I remember thinking, ‘I need morphine.’”A city planner. Straight Man caught in a Love Triangle between Leslie and Ann. He started off the series as a Handsome Lech, but this was quickly dropped and he spent most of his time on the show being a Ladykiller in Love. Put on a Bus when he joins a private company at the end of season two.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Non-villainous example. Some years prior to the first season, Mark and Leslie slept together once. This was a very important event in Leslie’s life and she imagines their working relationship has been filled with Unresolved Sexual Tension since. Mark sleeps with so many women that he barely even remembers it.
- The Casanova/Handsome Lech: In the first season.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Leukine
- Character Development: In the second season, he began a steady relationship with Ann and remained faithful to her. At Valentine's Day, he (admittedly) gives her every clichéd Valentine’s Day gift he can think of because it’s the first time he’s been able to give someone such a gift.
- The Generic Guy: For two seasons, he stood in the middle of a cast of more interesting characters and acted sane. Obviously, a Straight Man is supposed to do that, but unlike other characters who have fulfilled this role on the show (such as Ben), Mark lacked any quirks that allowed the character to take part in the shenanigans.
- Ladykiller in Love: How his Character Development happened.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Hit on Ann before she actually broke up with Andy, and then fell into the Pit behind Ann’s house later that night, just as Andy had done to inaugurate the series.
- Perma Stubble
- Put on a Bus: At the end of season two, Ann breaks up with him and he leaves the government to work for a construction company after Pawnee is declared bankrupt.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Mark was never mentioned following his change in employment, even when it would make sense for him to be mentioned. For example, Leslie and Ben struggle to find an architect for the Lot 48 park in “Pawnee Commons,” apparently forgetting that Mark had already drawn up plans for the park and given them to Leslie in his last episode.
- Even more notably, Ann assembles several boxes full of items, clothes, and hobbies she picked up while dating various characters in the show. She has boxes for every romantic interest she’s had except for Mark.
Sir Andrew Maxwell Dwyer, M.B.E (Chris Pratt)
“I just wrote a new song, okay? Bottom line, it’s called ‘Sex Hair.’ It’s about how you can tell when someone just had sex ’cause of how their hair gets matted up in the back. It’s awesome.”Andy was introduced as Ann’s idiotic musician boyfriend in the first season and originally intended as a temporary character. He was retained in the second season after Ann broke up with him and landed a job as a shoe-shiner at City Hall. He had a Will They or Won't They? relationship with April in the second season. In the third season, he and April married after having dated for less than a month, much to Leslie’s horror. Since then, their marriage has proved surprisingly stable. At the start of Season 4, Andy leaves his shoe-shiner job and joins the Parks Department.
- Adorkable: Despite being a stereotypical jock, Andy shows elements of this from time to time, especially when he morphs into his alter ego “Burt Macklin, FBI” whenever a situation requires the presence of law enforcement. He also likes to reenact scenes from action movies and it is discovered in one episode that he made a bucket list of all of the things he would like to do once in his life before he dies.
- Amusing Injuries: Andy gets hurt. A lot. And it is almost always hilarious.
- Author Catchphrase: He mentions that he uses the lines ‘spread your wings and fly’ and ‘you deserve to be a champion’ in all of his songs. The first lyric at least can actually be heard in the studio versions of most of his songs.
- Babies Ever After: With April in the Distant Finale.
- Beta Couple: With April after they become a couple.
- Breakout Character: Started out as the least important character on the show (being the boyfriend of someone not even in the Parks Department), but gradually becomes one of the leads.
- Buffy Speak: Largely due to stupidity and not really knowing any technical terms.
- Captain Obvious: Because he’s often Late to the Punchline, he’ll usually restate something everyone always figured out.
- Character Development: Andy morphed from something of an asshat in Season 1 to a lovable doofus in Season 2.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Mostly in Season 4 and after, comes with being The Ditz. It’s not normal for someone to dedicate a whole episode’s investigation just to find who threw the pie at Jerry in “Bus Tour.” That’s just one of many examples.
- The Ditz:Andy: Leslie, I typed your symptoms into the thing up here and it says that you might have … Network Connectivity Problems.
- Does Not Understand Sarcasm:April: I’ll go too.
Tom: Really? ’Cause an hour ago you told me you’d rather watch a sex tape of your grandparents.
April: Shut up! I don’t have anything else to do. Do you want help or not?
Tom: All right, see you guys later. [Leaves]
Andy: I think that it’s really, really sweet that your grandparents still make love.
- In another episode, Andy and Tom are escorted to the archiving room by an extremely old woman. As soon as she leaves, Tom jokingly tells Andy to remind him to ask her where she was when Lincoln got shot. Andy makes sure to write it down.
- This becomes rather ironic when he gets together with April, who is absolutely the most most sarcastic and snarky character on the show.
- Early Installment Weirdness: His entire character becomes entirely different after Season 1, where he goes from a Jerkass who is conning Ann to a lovable idiot who is among the nicest characters on the show.
- Fake Guest Star: In the first season, Chris Pratt was credited as a guest star despite appearing in every episode. They did shuffle back and forth on putting him in the opening titles during the first season, but nevertheless he was consistently referred to as a guest star. From the second season onwards, he was credited as a normal regular.
- Feigning Intelligence: Andy has tried to sound smart on several occasions, and failed spectacularly every time.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
- Global Ignorance:
- In the same episode, he says Venezuela is both “across the pond” and a city in Mexico.
- He thinks that the states that form the Four Corners are Utah, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon.note
- Happily Married: To April.
- Jerkass: In Season 1. He grows out of it.
- Literal-Minded: Leslie commissions him to write a song for Li’l Sebastian’s funeral that’s “five thousand times better than ‘Candle in the Wind’”. Andy writes a song titled “Five Thousand Candles in the Wind.”
- Major Injury Underreaction: Andy tends to try to downplay serious injuries. Other times he completely forgets about them, such as when he broke his thumb while on the way to visit the doctor's office to get his concussion checked.
- Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Andy, to April.
- Oblivious to Love: Towards the end of Season 2, it becomes clear that this is at least partially an act due to the age difference making Andy uncertain.
- Odd Friendship: He spends a lot of time with Ben and Tom in later seasons.
- Opposites Attract: With April.
- Parental Substitute: Ron is a pretty straight example, while Leslie is a bit of this and a Cool Big Sis to him.
- Shipper on Deck: In season five, Andy does more to get Ron and Diane together than either Ron or Diane.
- Stalker with a Crush: In the first part of Season 2, Andy lives in a ravine near Ann’s house to ‘protect’ her.
- The Stoner: Andy certainly seems like he’d be a stoner, but nothing is confirmed until “Correspondents’ Lunch,” where Leslie realizes the “fertility tea” she bought for Ann is probably actually weed and throws it away. The camera immediately pans over to Andy and April, who seem to be silently discussing stealing the baggie once no one’s watching.
- Too Dumb to Fool: April’s attempts at Operation Jealousy both fail because he’s too dumb or naïve to be tricked.
- Took a Level in Kindness: His evolution into a more likable person during the second season. There was some of this in the first season too, particularly in one episode where he goes out of the way to clean the house (and himself!) as a surprise for Ann while impaired by his cast.
- Will They or Won't They?: With April during the second season.
Sir Benjamin Wyatt, M.B.E (Adam Scott)
“Well, you have to be able to make decisions like this, Leslie. You have to be harsh, you know. No one’s going to elect you to do anything if you don’t show that you’re a responsible grown-up.”A state auditor who comes to Pawnee with Chris to evaluate the town’s funds at the end of the second season. Promoted to series regular in the third season. He is blunt and cynical, but has a Freudian Excuse.
- Adorkable: Is deep into geek culture, enough that he creates his own tabletop game and Leslie once gave him his own Iron Throne. He’s so enthusiastic about his favorite properties that he cannot resist correcting his coworkers when they show their naïveté about a subject, even though they’re usually being facetious to needle him and don’t really care.Donna: What is wrong with you today? Did they cancel Game of Thrones?
Ben: Nothing is wrong, just do your job! [Beat] They would never cancel Game of Thrones. It’s a crossover hit! It’s not just for fantasy enthusiasts! They’re telling human stories in a fantasy world! [Beat, calms down] Fill out the forms, please.
- Aside Glance: Ben is the king of this.
- Badass Bureaucrat: Ben is incredibly good and efficient at his job, he's managed to save six towns (including Pawne) from bankruptcy. Upon adapting to his new job's he takes to like a duck to water. Other accountants in the series call him brilliant and he potentially ends up president of the United States. He's so good, even Leslie considers him "a genius." The fact there both so competent and good at there jobs, is one of there reasons they work so well together.
- Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: Served this role in his initial appearance, wherein his cynicism and designation by Chris as the Bearer of Bad News made Leslie consider him the ‘bad guy’. This very quickly changes though.
- Bearer of Bad News: Chris often forces him into this position. In Season 6, it’s revealed that Ben actually loved getting to play this role whilst working with Chris.
- Berserk Button: Any mention of him as a mayor when he was 18 years old is bound to set him off.
- You also do not want to call Leslie a bitch in front of him.
- Bishounen: Leslie starts thinking of Ben as this after they start dating:“I should listen to you always, because you are a man-genius with a taut, narrow frame like a sexy elf king!”
- Bi the Way: When going off on a talk show host, he can be heard saying, “Everyone has gay thoughts!” Although he may not completely fulfill the trope, since said talk show host was heckling and flustering him into saying several embarrassing things.
- Breakout Character
- Brutal Honesty
- The Comically Serious
- The Cynic: Though he’s getting better, thanks to Leslie and Pawnee in general.
- Deadpan Snarker: While subtler than other examples on this show, he definitely has his moments, though most of the time he is more ‘deadpan’ than ‘snarky’.
- Face Palm: Ben’s typical reaction to Pawnee, its citizens, and his own personal disasters.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- Happily Married: To Leslie as of mid-Season 5.
- Hollywood Nerd: Definite Type II. Shauna Malwae-Tweep and Marlene Griggs-Knope certainly agree.
- Improbable Age: Was mayor of a town at 18. A caller to the Crazy Ira and the Douche radio show lampshades this in the most offensively unintelligent way possible:Caller: Seems like eighteen is pretty young for a mayor. What were you, like, twelve?
- In-Series Nickname: Ben accumulates a lot of these in his short time in the series (“Mean Ben,” “Turd Boy,” “Human Disaster,” “Calzone Boy,” “Nerd,” et cetera). In fandom, “Human Disaster” especially has grown to almost memetic proportions.
- I Resemble That Remark: A Running Gag with Tom is Tom will make some kind of geek insult about Ben, with Ben to respond indignantly at being called a geek with an even geekier answer. For example, Tom insulting that Ben wants to take a Hobbit tour of New Zealand, and Ben responding that he did not care for Peter Jackson’s adaptation.
- Nerds Speak Klingon: He speaks Dothraki.
- Nice Guy: Once you get past the Brutal Honesty and pessimism, Ben is easily one of the nicest and most reliable characters on the show, not to mention being the Only Sane Man most of the time.
- He’s also one of the few, if not the only character, to have never made fun of Jerry. Even other Nice Guys Chris, Andy, and Leslie can’t say that.
- No Social Skills
- Odd Friendship: With Tom. They probably couldn’t be more dissimilar. Though this might apply to Ben and Chris as well.
- He also ‘came out’ that Larry is his friend and the others shouldn’t be so mean to him.
- Official Couple: With Leslie.
- Old Shame: In-Universe: Bankrupting his hometown during his stint as teen mayor when he built an expensive winter sports center. When Crazy Ira and the Douche bring it up in “Media Blitz,” it absolutely ruins his composure.
- One Steve Limit: Is an aversion. Ben was previously the name of April’s boyfriend’s boyfriend.
- Only Sane Employee
- Only Sane Man
- Opposites Attract: Subverted with Leslie, as after their rocky first impression they're actually shown to have incredibly similar qualities as well, and the Ship Tease ultimately results in a seasons-spanning romance arc and marriage.
- Persona Non Grata: “Partridge” shows that his eponymous hometown still holds an intense grudge over Ice Town. His sister runs as soon as a crowd points her out as a relative, and Leslie and Ben even get chased out of a local park when a ranger recognizes him.
- Promotion to Opening Titles
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Chris’ Red.
- Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Savvy guy to Leslie’s energetic girl.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: In a sleepy Midwestern town, he definitely stands out.
- Straight Man: He is easily one of the most sensible characters on the show.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: He kind of replaces Mark. He doesn’t have the same job, but he acts as a foil/possible love interest to Leslie in a similar way.
- By the end of the third season, however, Ben is definitely his own character. Also, according to creator Michael Schur, even though Ben was brought in with the idea that he might be a love interest/foil for Leslie, he was hesitant to label Ben that, reasoning that they hadn’t shot a single scene with the two of them yet, and implying that, like Andy/April, there needed to be chemistry for it to work.
- He’s undeniably replaced Mark as the show’s ‘straight man’ though; the difference with Ben is that he has definable traits that allowed him to fit in with the rest of the cast and be able to spin laughs out of.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Calzones, which earns him no end of derision from everyone he knows. Although he is temporarily disillusioned from beloved calzones after he incurs a devastating case of food poisoning in “Ann’s Decision.” It proves not to last for long.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He’s afraid of cops and in “Dave Returns” has to interact with a lot of them.
- Will They or Won't They?: Has so much of this with Leslie in seasons 3 and 4, though ultimately They Do.
- The Woobie: Becomes this in-universe (and to some viewers) when Donna takes him on her and Tom’s annual “Treat Yo’self Day” after seeing him outside at lunch:Donna: Oh, Lord. Is he eating soup on a bench? Alone?
Donna: Uh oh. Batman’s crying.
- His Woobieness increases later that day when he buys himself a Batman costume to wear as his version of treating himself and begins to weep, his sadness over the breakup of his secret relationship with Leslie finally coming out.
Christopher Traeger (Rob Lowe)
“I take care of my body above all else; diet, exercise, supplements, positive thinking. Scientists believe that the first human being who will live a hundred and fifty years has already been born. I believe I am that human being.”Ben’s partner, opposite and Heterosexual Life Partner. He is cheerful and optimistic, but, in an effort to be liked, he always forces Ben to be the messenger for any bad news. Chris is also a health nut. In Season 3 the mayor of Pawnee asks him to fill in for the city manager who’s recovering from a heart attack.
- The Ace: Donna even calls him the Bionic Man.
- Ambiguously Bi: Maybe a bit much, but it’s been repeatedly shown that he’s flattered by rather than uncomfortable with male attention.
- Back for the Finale
- Bearer of Bad News: But as shown below, he usually leaves that to Ben.
- Breakout Character: He was originally only intended to appear in the last two episodes of Season 2 and the first six episodes of Season 3. However, after the positive critical reception of the character, Rob Lowe signed a multiyear contract and became a main cast member for several seasons.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Despite his relentless optimism, his emotional troubles and his many eccentricities, he is consistently shown to be a clear-eyed, cunning and capable administrator. He does make a handful of bad decisions right after becoming city manager- but if Ron is to be believed, this is par for the course every time the position changes hands, and Chris is insightful enough to know that rolling over on all of his decisions will undermine his credibility.
- Catch Phrase: One of his strategies for making Ben seem like the bad guy instead of him involves variations of this:[Character complains about X]
Chris: Well, that’s terrible! Is there anything we can do about that, Ben?
Ben: Uh, no.
Chris: Damn! [Hastens off the scene]
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: He has to help everyone he meets if they have a problem. Even if he has no idea what the problem is, he jumps straight in and tries to help them in any way he can.
- Cloudcuckoolander: To the point of using a far-too-opaque feng shui metaphor to break up with Ann.
- Chosen Conception Partner: When Ann goes looking for a sperm donor to father he child, she eventually chooses Chris. But after they get back together, they wind up making a baby the old-fashioned way.
- Expy: A Wide-Eyed Idealist working in government with an intensely positive personality and slavish devotion to rules, played by Rob Lowe? Chris is essentially a less-savvy sitcom version of Sam Seaborn.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
- Full-Name Basis: He greets everyone by pointing at them and saying their name.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: It’s part of his usual greeting, but it’s also what he does when he meets someone for the first time. It can be off-putting.Ron: Hello, gents! Ron Swanson. [Reaches for a handshake)']
Chris: [Point] Ron … Swanson.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Revealed to be this in “Dave Returns.” He doesn’t know the words for “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” either.
- Hypochondria: An extension of being born with a blood disease.
- The Matchmaker: He expresses a fondness for this in “Jerry’s Painting” and endeavors to set Ben up with someone. Played for irony given his new rules are actually keeping Ben from the one person he’s interested in.
- Moment Killer: An indirect version in that his rules against relationships within the government are the only obstacle in Leslie and Ben’s way, although he does not realize this. There are straighter examples in “Road Trip” where (1) Ben confesses to Leslie at dinner; Leslie leaves for a moment to consult Ann and steels herself to go back and kiss Ben only to find that Chris has appeared and has seated himself at their table, and (2) Ben and Leslie get increasingly cute while watching TV together on the couch in Chris’ hotel room and Chris keeps interrupting with his frequent bathroom trips.
- Nice Guy: While his overly cheerful personality sometimes leads to unintentional Jerkass moments, Chris is overall a very well-meaning man who implements a health initiative out of a genuine desire to improve the health of the citizens of Pawnee. He is also friendly and polite to almost everyone. An excellent example of his niceness occurs during Ben’s bachelor party when he finds out none of the other guys got to have their own bachelor parties for various reasons. His response? He gives everyone the perfect bachelor party they never got to have.
- Official Couple: With Ann as of Season 5.
- Older Than They Look: He’s forty-four. The most common in-universe estimate is twenty-five.
- One Steve Limit: Averted. In “The Set-Up, before he was introduced, Ann set Leslie up with a colleague named Chris (see Leslie’s profile — he’s the guy who gave her the MRI).
- The Pollyanna: So positive, he scares off Oren, the creepy and morbid Goth at April and Andy’s wedding.
- When he was born with a deadly, rare blood disease, the doctors told his parents he would only live for a few months. That’s why he is so positive!
- Principles Zealot: He will not budge or bend the rules, even if he would personally like to. He hates the fact that he has to investigate Ben and Leslie’s relationship and genuinely wants them to get off scot-free, but he refuses to half-ass the investigation and does it to the best of his ability.
- Promotion to Opening Titles
- Pure Is Not Good: His exceedingly healthy body, which he compares to a finely-tuned microchip, is more than once played as a weakness. When he catches the flu it hits him like a truck.Chris: Stop … pooping.
- Put on a Bus
- Real Men Wear Pink: His pink shower cap (from a breast cancer awareness triathlon), and he even has a leg razor. Chris sees none of this anything to be ashamed of.
- He also doesn’t see kissing Ron on his birthday as anything strange.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Ben’s Blue.
- Sarcasm-Blind:Chris: It is exactly because of that lewd photo that I am here. […] If I could go back in time and cut your eyeballs out, I would.
April: Wow, that is so sweet.
Chris: Thank you.
- Although in a later episode he seems to understand that Ann is using sarcasm, but not that it’s meant as a jab at him.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The sensitive guy to Ron’s manly man.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Does this periodically, usually with his trademark happy smile.
- Stepford Smiler:
- In “The Trial of Leslie Knope,” he's so anxious and depressed about Leslie's trial that he loads up on herbal remedies in a way that is creepily reminiscent of a drug addict to the point of, as Leslie puts it, “radiating pure.”
- Other episodes show that he actually has crippling issues about his mortality that he barely manages to cover up. It’s really the only reason he's such a health nut. He begins spiralling into depression when his unrequited feelings for Ann make him wonder if he’ll just end up alone.
- Straw Vegetarian: While he does eat meat, his health nut tendencies are usually focused on getting away from red meat and he’s treated the same as a Straw Vegetarian. On multiple occasions he’s shown thinking various plants are reasonable alternatives to meat. Most telling is when he wanted to remove hamburgers from the commissary. He bet Ron he could make a turkey burger better than a hamburger. When they had the cook-off, Chris slaved over his burgers with the finest ingredients. Ron slapped ground beef on a grill. Ron won in a landslide because beef is just better. Even Chris was 100 percent convinced.
- Terrified of Germs: During flu season:Chris: [Increasingly frantically] I have to get out of here. I have 2.8 percent body fat. My body’s like a microchip. A grain of sand could destroy it. My body’s a microchip. [Leaves]
- Too Much Information: Chris has a habit of being very direct and honest with people. This sometimes results in him saying things that would probably be better left unsaid, like telling female colleagues when they’ve done something he finds arousing.
- While dating Milly, Chris insisted on including Jerry in his courtship out of respect for him as her father. This includes telling Jerry whenever Milly slept over at Chris’ house.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted! He starts seeing a therapist in Season 5 and it does him a world of good.
- Weaksauce Weakness: He's built his body to perfection. Unfortunately, that also means that his body is sensitive to things that most people aren't too worried about. Flu hits him hard, and he has to constantly replenish electrolytes. And his body's tolerances are so tight that he has to go to the bathroom twelve times a night.
- Villain Ball: Unfortunately picks it up by his own principles in The Trial of Leslie Knope. He refuses to back down on his own rule of "no office relationships" to investigate and punish Leslie and Ben to the full extent of his ability. However he fully admits to not enjoying having to, is noticeably stressed out by it and openly happy it didn't uncover anything worse.
Garry “Jerry”/“Larry” Gergich
Mayor Garry “Jerry”/“Larry”/“Terry”/“Garry” Gergich (Jim O’Heir)
“Well, you know it’s like I always say, ‘It ain't government work if you don’t have to do it twice.’”An older Butt Monkey who has worked in the Parks Department since the 1970s. He’s picked on by everyone, particularly ‘mean’ characters like Tom and April, but also by ‘nice’ characters like Leslie. He is regarded as a boring, out-of-touch loser, but actually seems to have his personal life squared away better than anyone else.
- Accidental Misnaming: In “The Trial of Leslie Knope,” it’s revealed that his name is actually Garry:Jerry: On my first day here, the old director, he called me “Jerry” and I just didn't think I should correct him.
- Actually if you look you at his ID card in the previous episode his name Garry is clearly visible if you look closely.
- Malicious Misnaming: At the start of the sixth season, April effectively changes his name to “Larry Gengurch.” He’s been known exclusively as “Larry” ever since. Even NBC’s website for the show now recognizes him as Larry Gengurch!
- In the series finale, even his headstone winds up getting his name wrong.
- Beneath the Mask: Later episodes have shown that it’s actually difficult to maintain his upbeat attitude at the office in light of all the abuse he takes, which may lead to some of his clumsiness.
- Biggus DickusDr. Harris: That man has the largest penis I have ever seen. I actually don’t even know if he has mumps, forgot to look. I was distracted … by the largest penis I have ever seen.
- Butt Monkey: He gets yelled at and demeaned by everyone in the office, to the point where he’s basically this show’s version of Toby.
- Catch Phrase: “Oh jeez…” whenever someone yells at him for doing something wrong. Which happens all the time.
- The Chew Toy
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
- Go Out with a Smile: Dies on his 100th birthday, happily holding hand with Gale and surrounded by his large and beautiful family.
- Happily Married: To his wife Gayle.
- I Have Many Names: He’s actually named Garry Gergich, but on his first day in the department the Parks director mistakenly called him “Jerry” and he didn’t have the nerve to correct him, so it stuck until his retirement. When he returned to the Department a few months later, April declared his real name was Larry Gengurch after he requested they started using his real name instead of Jerry. At some point during the Time Skip in "Moving Up," the office began calling him Terry instead; on the Johnny Karate Super Awesome Musical Explosion Show, he also plays Mailman Barry. Noted when the guys burnt their initials into a “Buddy Box” for Chris as a going-away present.Chris: [Confused] Who’s GJLGG?
Larry: Garry Jerry Larry Gergich Gengurch.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Before Gayle’s first pregnancy, he supposedly had a similar figure to Chris.
- Impossibly Tacky Clothes: Something for which Tom likes to make fun of him.
- Leap Day: His birthday, naturally.
- Nice Guy: Despite being constantly dumped on by his coworkers and by the universe in general, Jerry doesn’t have a mean-spirited bone in his body.
- Oblivious Adoption: Had no idea he was adopted until Mark looked up his background and mentioned that his adoptive mother had been arrested for marijuana possession … Jerry just said he didn’t know he was adopted.
- Older Than They Look/Younger Than They Look: Oddly combined in that Jerry is supposed to be sixty-four as of the fourth season (the episode “Sweet Sixteen” discusses his Leap Day birthday), and of course has a lot of Informed Flaw in terms of his appearance, but when that episode aired, Jim O’Heir was only fifty—in fact, he’s eight years younger than Christie Brinkley, who was cast as Jerry’s wife.
- Phrase Catcher: “Dammit, Jerry!”
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Along with Donna, after Chris and Ann left.
- The Scapegoat: Everything is Jerry’s fault.
- In “Jerry’s Painting” he tells Leslie that allowing the painting to be destroyed is something he would do, and that he didn’t expect her to give in.
- A comedic example in “The Bubble”: Chris says he believes Jerry is capable of so much more. Jerry’s immediate reply is a flat “I’m not.”
- 10-Minute Retirement: Retires at the end of the fifth season, but is brought back part-time of the end of the same episode. He returns to the Parks Department full-time in the sixth season. And just when he's set to retire again towards the end of season 7, he is appointed the interim mayor of Pawnee, is elected to the post, and remains mayor until his death at the age of 100. Jerry/Larry/Terry/Garry just can't get a break, can he?
- Throw the Dog a Bone: Gets two pretty significant ones in season 7:
- In "Donna & Joe" Donna labels Garry's dining place with his real name, thereby ensuring his co-workers will now address him by that name, albeit in a mocking way. He's thrilled about this development
- And then in "Two Funerals" Ben appoints Garry Interim Mayor of Pawnee after the incumbent Mayor dies two months before his term is up, complete with a completely over the top inauguration ceremony, where Garry is carried to a hot-air balloon by a Roman legion and then flies away
- In "One Last Ride" Gary is elected mayor of Pawnee for REAL, and then proceeds to fill the office for the rest of his life, adored by his large family and the people of Pawnee. Even his death is unbelievably heartwarming: He dies peacefully in his sleep, holding the hand of his beloved Gayle (who looks AMAZING).
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: His three girls.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: His wife Gayle is played by Christie Brinkley◊.
Donna Meagle (Retta Sirleaf)
“We’re not big on hospitality. The Meagles are a cold people.”A Sassy Black Woman who is office manager for the Parks Department. Donna has expensive tastes as she apparently comes from a wealthy family (Ginuwine is her cousin, as revealed in “Sweet Sixteen”). Her most prized possession is her Mercedes-Benz M-Class SUV, which you better not mess with if you know what’s good for you. She Really Gets Around and has had a variety of weird sexual exploits, which we mostly hear about in Noodle Incident format. She eventually settles down and gets married in the final season.
- Aerith and Bob: Her brothers LeVondrias and George.
- Berserk Button: Do not touch her Mercedes.
- Big Beautiful Woman: Donna is the most rotund character (next to Jerry) and it doesn’t do any harm to her ability to attract men, being the character who goes through the most sexual partners.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Dysfunctional Family: Comes from the passive-aggressive grudge holder variety. Donna lists off several examples; the last few Meagle family Pictionary tournaments all ended at the hospital and apparently no more than 3 Meagles are allowed on an international plane together. Donna is herself estranged from her younger brother LeVondrias due to an incident involving microwaved popcorn and he was not invited to her wedding. Until April brought him anyway.
- The Fashionista: She and Tom get along well.
- Five Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
- I Call It "Vera": One episode reveals that she has named her Mercedes “Michael Fassbender” because “they’re both German and they’re both sexy as hell”.
- Happily Married: With former boyfriend Joe in the final season.
- Kavorka Woman
- Phoneaholic Teenager: A decidedly adult version of this, Donna is frequently seen on her phone during office hours and plots about her are often about social media (e.g. live-tweeting a Death Canoe movie in "Halloween Surprise" and her account being the subject of a political witch-hunt in "Gin It Up!")
- The Precious, Precious Car: Again, her Mercedes.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Along with Jerry/Larry, after Chris and Ann left.
- Really Gets Around
- Sassy Black Woman
- Ironically enough, her actress’ Twitter bio specifically says “Don’t call me sassy.”
Related/Married to Main Characters
Marlene Griggs-Knope (Pamela Reed)Leslie’s mother and “a big mucky-muck in the county school system”. Has shades of Meddling Parent and ‘Well Done, Daughter’ Girl. Leslie’s father has been dead since she was ten years old, which was first implied in a throwaway line explaining that ‘he lives in Florida, in a cemetery’ and later made explicit in the fifth season.
- Iron Lady: She’s a big deal in Pawnee politics, and wheels and deals with the best of them. Her daughter even compares her to Margaret Thatcher.
- Nepotism: Early on it seemed like a large part of Leslie’s success was because of her mother.
- Out of Focus: After Season 3, she gets a cameo at best.
Tamara “Tammy” Swanson (Paula Pell)Ron’s mother, aka "Tammy Zero". Even more reclusive than her son, and a gun nut.
- Gun Nut: Has a whole room filled with nothing but guns.
- Godzilla Threshold: Leslie recruits Tamara to save Ron from Tammy One, after he becomes a Henpecked Husband due to her influence.
- The Dreaded: Prompts an Oh, Crap reaction from Tammy One, who is herself The Dreaded for Ron and Tammy Two.
Tammy Swanson “One” (Patricia Clarkson)Ron’s first wife. Makes her first appearance as the back of a head in the Season 3 finale, which is enough for Tammy Two and Ron to drop everything and head for the hills. She works for the IRS. Her influence can turn Ron into a dorky, pro-government Henpecked Husband.
- The Dreaded: Her mere presence is enough to provoke Tammy Two and Ron to drop everything and flee.
- Intimidating Revenue Service: Her employers.
- May-December Romance: She was Ron's nurse when he was born.
- Teacher/Student Romance: She was Ron's Sunday school teacher.
- The Stoic
- Wife Husbandry: Strongly implied. No one in town tried to stop her because they were all scared of her.
Tammy Swanson “Two” (Megan Mullally)The second of Ron’s evil ex-wives. Not only is she also named Tammy, so is Ron’s mother. This Tammy is a Vampy Manipulative Bitch and the deputy director of the Library Department, the Sitcom Arch-Nemesis of the Parks Department. Her influence can turn Ron into a pliable sex freak.
- Depraved Bisexual: At one point she gets into a wrestling match with Leslie and gets incredibly turned on.
- Evil Counterpart: To Leslie.
- Evil Laugh: The character gets a lot of mileage out of Mullally's signature cackle.
- Official Couple: Ron sets her up with Jamm to get her off his back. In “Ron and Jammy,” they break up after Leslie sees what Tammy has done to Jamm, namely tried to turn him into Ron.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: To Ron, Leslie and Diane.
- The Vamp: Uses her feminine wiles to get what she wants.
Diane Elizabeth Lewis (Lucy Lawless)Ron's girlfriend in season five. She is a middle-school vice principal with two young daughter, Ivy (Rylan Lee) and Zoey (Sadie Salazar). According to Leslie and Ron himself, she is perfect for Ron. They are married at the start of Season 6.
- Absentee Actor: Doesn't appear in season 7 at all. There's plenty of dialogue reminding viewers that she exists and is still Happily Married to Ron, however.
- Badass: Actually requests an officer arresting her uncuff Tammy Two so it’d be a fair fight.
- Birds of a Feather: With Ron.
- Happily Married: To Ron as of Season 6.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Lucy Lawless does a decent American accent, but sometimes those Kiwi vowels sneak in.
- Troll: When she married Ron, she stated her middle name was Tammy just to screw with him, before revealing it’s actually Elizabeth.
- Out of Focus: While it's confirmed by some dialogue that she and Ron are still married, Diane doesn't show up on the final season. Especially noticeable because Ron makes some important life decisions and they're relationship was always portrayed as healthy ennough for them to make that sort of choices together.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Twice towards Ron.
- When Ron misguidedly breaks one of her daughters’ tiaras in two so they can share.
- When Ron tries to get off the grid, she gives him a gentle one of these, pointing out that while she’s okay with his privacy, he needs to be available to his family.
Wendy Haverford (Jama Williamson)Tom's wife at the start of the series. She is Canadian and married him to stay in the country, resulting in the Irony of an interracial Citizenship Marriage where it’s the white partner who is trying to avoid being deported from America. They split up during the second season, in an episode appropriately titled “Tom’s Divorce”. Ron dated her for a while before she moved back to Canada near the start of the third season.
- Oblivious to Love: Was entirely unaware Tom had feelings for her at first.
- Put on a Bus: To Canada, specifically her hometown of Ottawa.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Not that Tom is genuinely ugly, but this is the reaction of most people when they see them together.
Gayle Gergich (Christie Brinkley)Garry's loving and unreasonably hot wife.
- Alliterative Name: Gayle Gergich.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When very angry with Garry, she'll call him the B-word: Bozo.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have: Played for laughs in the finale, when she looks exactly as she does in the present day, despite the fact she should be in her nineties.
- Happily Married: No one understands why, but she's incredibly happy with Garry.
- Nice Girl: Much like her husband, Gayle doesn't appear to have a mean bone in her body.
- Older Than They Look: Justified example, as Christie Brinkley really is in her 60s this is taken to absurd lengths in the Distant Finale where, in a scene where she would have to be in her mid-90s at least, she looks exactly the same.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Ben is especially flabbergasted by the Gergich's relationship, but no one can understand it.
Joe (Keegan-Michael Key)A teacher whom Donna begins dating in the sixth season. They get married in season 7's aptly-titled "Donna & Joe"
- Friend to All Children: Appears to be this.
- Nice Guy: To the point that Donna originally broke up with him because she's used to messed up guys.
- Only One Name: His last name isn't given, even at his wedding.
- Token Minority Couple: With Donna (both black...ish).
Lucy (Natalie Morales)A girl Tom dated back in season 2. They reconnect in season 7, getting engaged in the penultimate episode and are implied to be married in the Distant Finale
- Birds of a Feather: with Tom
- Deadpan Snarker: It's how she puts up with Tom.
- Only One Name: Her last name is never revealed although given the events of the finale, it might be Haverford now...
- Spicy Latina: Averted. She mentions she's Cuban early on, but doesn't do anything particularly sassy, and speaks with a "standard" American accent.
- Token Minority Couple: With Indian Tom.
Ethel Beavers (Helen Slayton-Hughes)A Cool Old Lady who works in the dreaded fourth floor of City Hall and is also court stenographer. In "Two Funerals" we find out she had an affair with the late Mayor Gunderson who had an open marriage with his wife.
Jeremy Jamm (Jon Glaser)City councilman, orthodontist and Jerkass extraordinaire who generally opposes everything Leslie does on principle. As of Season 6, while retaining his Jerkassness, is also characterized as a lonely and pathetic man who desperately needs a friend.
- Break the Haughty: The final season starts off with him dating Tammy Two, unfortunately he ends up broken.
- Catch Phrase: “You just got Jammed!”
- Cool Car: He’s very proud of his red Corvette.Jamm: I once got an Asian girl to sit in it!
- Establishing Character Moment: He's introduced by having Leslie walking in on him in the private bathroom attached to her councilman office. He then refuses to take "no" for an answer when she tries to prevent this from continuing into the future.
- Hate Sink: He exists largely so Leslie can have an annoying enemy on the council.
- Jerkass: Especially to Leslie, even though he considers her a friend.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Tries to obstruct anything Leslie does on principle.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: One of the most regular antagonists and he makes no attempts to be politically correct. Ever.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: One of Leslie’s many, and her most prominent in Seasons 5 and 6.
Bill Dexhart (Kevin Symons)City councilman. An incredibly Sleazy Politician who is usually involved in some kind of sex scandal.
- Corrupt Politician: A sexual deviant who will do anything to win and stays in office due to a combination of living in the worst district in town and playing incredibly dirty.
- Jerkass: He stays in office despite his many sex scandals only because he runs scorched-earth negative campaigns to make his opponents look even worse than he.
- Kavorka Man: His sexual exploits are genuinely impressive, if only because he’s not notably attractive but manages to bed a ridiculous number of women.
- Running Gag: Whenever Dexhart is mentioned, he’s usually at the center of another sex scandal.
Fielding Milton (James Greene)City councilman since 1948. Mostly a source of Racist Grandpa jokes.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Not necessarily an out-and-out villain, but he’s a noted racist and sexist who regularly tries to down-talk Leslie.
- Racist Grandpa: As noted above. He originally ran for office on a promise to de-integrate baseball.
Douglass Howser (Yvans Jourdain)City councilman. Seems to be a Straight Man. A Running Gag involves Leslie running into him in awkward situations and her using the opportunity to try and talk about some issue.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: He seems to be the City Council's president/chairman/whatever (he sits in the middle and his chair is on a raised platform). He is also bald and black.
- Only Sane Man: On the city council. You’ve got overzealous Leslie, sleazy Jamm, sex-scandal-prone Dexhart, Racist Grandpa Milton, and then Howser, whose only quirk is a propensity to keep running into Leslie at inconvenient times.
- Shout-Out: One wonders if he’s a doctor.
Ingrid de Forest (Kristen Bell)A resident of the former Eagleton and Leslie's replacement on the city council.
- Anti-Villain: Runs against Leslie purely in her hometown’s interest.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Quite mean at first, but later shows herself to be a great politician who honestly cares about the former Eagletonians.
- Worthy Opponent: Considers Leslie as this after running against her.
Dave Sanderson (Louis C.K.)Leslie’s boyfriend in Season 2. A bumbling cop. Their relationship is cut short due to Dave joining the Army Reserve and moving to San Diego, but he comes back in Season 4’s “Dave Returns” and awkwardly interacts with Ben.
- The Bus Came Back: For one episode in the aptly named "Dave Returns."
- Nice Guy: He's a pleasant, if bumbling man.
- Put on a Bus: Has to move to San Diego to fulfill his obligation to the Army Reserve.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: When he's seen again in season 4, he's a good deal more unhinged than when he departed in season 2, still hung up over feelings for Leslie, expecting her to return them, and even going so far as to handcuff Ben to a urinal in the restaurant they were all in.
- Verbal Tic: Speaks in very blunt, straightforward sentences.
Craig Middlebrooks (Billy Eichner)The Camp Gay former office manager of Eagleton’s Parks Department who transferred to the Pawnee department when the two towns merged. Has No Indoor Voice and prone to Comical Overreacting.
- Ambiguously Gay: For his first season on the show. He acts incredibly camp, and has stereotypically gay interests and mannerisms, but never shows interest in men until the seventh season.
- Camp Gay: Confirmed to be at least interested in men in season seven, getting married in the Distant Finale.
- Comical Overreacting: He will do this over anything.
- Happily Married: Ties the knot with Typhoon in the series finale.
- It's All About Me: Reacted to the news of Leslie’s pregnancy by ranting about how every time he accomplishes something, someone else always upstages him.
- No Indoor Voice: Craig has a seeming inability to use an indoor voice.
- After the Time Skip he's controlled it. His therapist (Dr. Richard Nygard) advised him whenever he feels the need to yell to "take a deep breath and say three great things about being alive".
- Sixth Ranger: The only member of Eagleton Parks and Rec to become a full-fledged member of the combined Parks Department. Eventually, he even takes over as director.
Brett Hull and Harris Wittels (Colton Dunn and Harris Wittels)Two stoned morons who work at Pawnee Animal Control and are the major reason for i's massive incompetence in catching animals. They are fired in Season 5 and currently squatting in the basement of City Hall.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Due to being high in all of their appearances.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Ron, April and Andy find them in the City Hall basement they say they certainly aren't living there.
- The Stoner: They're high pretty much all the time.
- Those Two Guys: Even (accidentally) show up to a job interview together.
- Too Dumb to Live: They got fired because they left a coyote trap around since they had a huge pest problem, and tried to reach Animal Control about it but no one would pick it up. As Leslie pointed out, they were the people they'd call about it.
Mayor Walter Gunderson (Bill Murray)
- The Cameo: In "Two Funerals," he appears as a corpse.
- The Ghost: Mentioned frequently before "Two Funerals," but never shown. Of course, by the time we see him, he's dead, so this entry works on two levels.
Kyle (Andy Forrest)A regular at Andy's shoe shine stand and an attorney for City Hall, he is the lowest on the City Hall pecking chain. Even Jerry treats him like garbage.
- Butt Monkey: Only Chris is actually nice to him.
- The Chew Toy: Unlike Jerry, there is no good nature to the ribbing, and no silver linings in his life
- Extreme Doormat
- Occidental Otaku: Subverted: he is characterised as this once by the others, even though all he was doing was eating rice.
- Old Windbag: His stories inspire either this or inappropriate laughter.
Joan Callamezzo (Mo Collins)The vapid host of Pawnee Today, a talk show frequented by the main characters. She likes Tom due to his flattery, but seemingly has a vendetta against Leslie. She’s oddly arrogant for a local media personality.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Entirely lost her mind over the Time Skip. Highlights include calling all her ex-boyfriends while sitting on a washing machine on-air, having her audience fight over a car, and believing she’s in Gotham in the middle of a speech.
- Jerkass: Rarely kind to anyone, as she thinks she's above most people.
- Kent Brockman News: She's an insufferable Jerkass and has no shame in hiding it whenever she's on air.
- Lady Drunk: She's almost always inebriated, even on air.
- Narcissist: To an absurd degree—she has huge oil paintings of herself in the nude in her house, for example. The only people she doesn't constantly belittle are suck ups who praise everything she does.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: One of Leslie’s first. She seems to relish taking her down.
- Small Name, Big Ego: A local talk show host who seems to think she’s Oprah.
Shauna Malwae-Tweep (Alison Becker)Intrepid Reporter for the local paper. Usually, the Parks Department gives her access in the hope that she’ll report something positively for them, but hijinks ensue and her story ends up with a negative, sensationalistic slant. In Season 5, Chris has a short-lived and ambiguously romantic relationship with her.
- Anti-Villain: Yes, she causes problems for the department, but she’s simply doing her job.
- Romantic False Lead: Her usual role is becoming friendly with a male character, making the girl he eventually winds up with jealous by accident. This happened with Andy, Ben, and Chris in that order.
- Romantic Runner-Up: As a perpetual Romantic False Lead, she winds up as this frequently. As she points out, “I can’t even land the shoeshine boy!”
Perderick “Perd” Hapley (Jay Jackson)Host of Ya’ Heard? with Perd. Tends to speak redundantly, in sentences, which repeat their meaning.
- Acrofatic: Can do the Worm.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: In his more competent moments, he can show some skill at hosting a show, and is clearly likable enough to cultivate a local following.
- Captain Obvious: Because of his redundant nature, most of his statements are quite obvious in addition to being redundant in nature.“Issue number one is the first issue we’re going to talk about.”
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Even if he isn’t sure if there are real cuckoos living in the clouds, his offbeat behavior would fit right in if there were. He has to ask if centaurs are real.
- Department of Redundancy Department: His standout trait, which is quite notable.
- The Ditz: While Pawnee is filled with them, he stands out as the most naive and idiotic media representative.
- Fan Community Nick Name: He refers to his fans as Perd-verts.
- The Fool: Has done quite well despite not being the smartest tool in Pawnee.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Loves making these with his name.
- Kent Brockman News: Of the spacey, cuckoolander kind.
- Literal-Minded: Is so tunnel-visioned with his questions and answers, jokes and sarcasm tend to escape his tunnel vision.Perd: The lewd photo, how big of a deal is it?
Leslie: Well, Perd, it’s not that big a deal, if you know what I mean.
Perd: I don’t know what you mean, but it had the cadence of a joke!
- Nice Guy: The nicest person in the Pawnee media. Any time he’s caused trouble for Leslie it hasn’t been on purpose.
- Pungeon Master: Always related to his name.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Occasionally, due to being so literal minded.
- Verbal Tic: Speaks in sentences that are somewhat redundant and repeat themselves, because of the redundancy of rephrasing everything he says in the sentences that he speaks.
Derry Murbles (Dan Castellaneta)Host of a public radio show which plays terrible music. Leslie has been a guest on the show a couple of times.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Upon finding out that his target audience likes jazz music, he plays two jazz records simultaneously.
- Take That: He and his show seem to be a lighthearted jab at NPR and its soft-spoken hosts.
Crazy Ira and the Douche (Matt Besser and Nick Kroll)Crazy Ira and Howard “The Douche” Tuttleman are two shock jocks of a morning zoo-style Pawnee radio program. They serve primarily as a parody of those types of radio shows, especially in a small-town market like Pawnee. The show prominently features fart jokes and ‘Your Mom’ insults, as well as constant sound effects from their sound man “China Joe,” who hates his job. Crazy Ira and The Douche are widely admired in Pawnee.
- Alter Ego Acting: The Douche occasionally points out when he’s speaking in character. “That’s the Douche talking.”
- Hidden Depths: Will occasionally provide moments that show they are more mature than their on-air behavior suggests, only to follow it up by acting like they would on air.
- Jerkass: The two are NOT the least bit likeable.
- No Sell: In the companion book Pawnee: Best Town in America, Jerry transcribed the two trying to prank Ron. Ron stonewalls them since their choice of disguises to bug him with are random citizens and other members of the government, both of which Ron avoids like the plague.
- Only Known By His Nickname: Crazy Ira.
- Shock Jock: They're quite filthy on-air, and their sound guy is incredibly good at pulling up perfect perverted soundbites.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: They are two among many citizens in Pawnee who ruin things for Leslie on a regular basis.
- Those Two Guys: Rarely seen apart, other than a brief stint where The Douche was considered to be a sperm donor for Ann.
Jean-Ralphio Saperstein (Ben Schwartz)Tom’s partner-in-crime who is (even more) slimy and obnoxious. He’s hilarious just from his hairstyle. Outright hated by Ron and Donna.
- Anything That Moves: Or, in his words, “I guess you could say I’m pretty open-minded.”
- Bi the Way: Has hit on both Donna and Chris on separate occasions.
- Casanova Wannabe: Even more so than Tom.
- Conspicuous Consumption: The only thing better than having money is making sure people know you have it.
- Faking the Dead: At some point in the future, he fakes his death and plans to use the insurance payout to open a casino in Tajikistan.
- Graceful Loser: Whenever he loses a job or gets rejected in an interview, Jean-Ralphio simply acknowledges that it’s the right decision.“Makes sense. So I just go out the same way I came in?”
- Incoming Ham: Someone making a indirect comment about him without using his name directly will inevitably summon Jean-Ralphio.
- Large Ham: Constantly loud, if not outright yelling (or rapping).
- Replacement Flat Character: He embodies all of the negative traits Tom had before he got character development.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Has plenty of disposable income due to his father.
- Spoiled Brat: Calls his father “Daddy” and asks for money. Which he gets.
- Verbal Tic: Will occasionally randomly sing words in his sentences.
Mona Lisa Saperstein (Jenny Slate)Jean-Ralphio’s “twin sister from the same mister” who he describes as (singing) “the worst person in the wooooorld” and also a “total klepto, nympho, and pyro.” Tom hires her at his clothing rental business and ends up starting a relationship with her after attempting to discipline her results in a sexual encounter.
- Ax-Crazy: Frequently breaks things and sets fires when she doesn't get her way, picks fights with people and is an all-around unstable person.
- Anything That Moves: Is perfectly open to having a foursome with Tom, a total stranger, and her own brother.
- Daddy's Girl: Like her brother, she blatantly lies to their father’s face and whines to get money at the drop of a hat.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Tom dates her. Jean-Ralphio is her brother. Both of them admit that Mona Lisa is a horrible person.
- Jerkass: She is, in fact, the wooooooooooorst.
- Jewish American Princess: She is very spoiled and Ambiguously Jewish, yet taken Up to Eleven with her habits of arson and begs for money from people...or else their office get's trashed.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Whereas Jean-Ralphio is a slimeball but otherwise harmless, Mona-Lisa is a few paintings short of a Louvre. Case in point, her childishly asking for money while smashing up Ben's office is a hilarious and terrifying thing to watch.
- Really Gets Around: She'll agree to anything.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Gets her money from her father, and just fools around all day. For a time she was employed by Tom, but she was awful at it.
- Spoiled Brat: Even more so than her brother.
Dr. Saperstein (Henry Winkler)Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa’s father. He finds his layabout offspring to be a huge disappointment.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Even while he's destroying their friend's life, Chris and Ann go to him for their pregnancy because he's that good.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Is convinced Mona Lisa was a virgin before dating Tom; when he accuses Tom of stealing her virginity, everyone else in the room bursts into laughter at the idea.
- Nice Guy: Zig-zagged. He’s got fantastic rapport with his patients and complains about being interrupted while watching Saturday morning cartoons with his son; but he loathes Tom over his perceived mistreatment of Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa to the point that he doesn’t even care when he finds out that his kids were lying, and he makes it very clear that he considers his children to be complete and utter disappointments that he wants to offload at the earliest opportunity (although let's face it, this is entirely justified of him).
- Papa Wolf: Sets about destroying Tom’s business because he believes Tom wronged Jean-Ralphio and Mona Lisa.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: After finding out that his kids lied about Tom’s actions, he decides to continue with the business because it’s making money.
- Serial Numbers Filed Off: In-universe, he opens a ‘clothing rental for teens’ business just to run Tom’s “Rent-a-Swag” out of business. It’s so transparent that he even calls it “Tommy’s Closet”.
- Sitcom Archnemesis: To Tom in Season 6.
Nick Newport, Sr. (Christopher Murray)Former CEO of Sweetums, a candy corporation which owns half the town. Dies at the end of Season 4.
- Character Death: Dies towards the end of the fourth season.
- Living Prop: Despite being featured in several plots, he never actually does or says anything.
Jessica Wicks (Susan Yeagley)Nick, Sr.’s Gold Digger wife. Also a Rich Bitch. Current CEO.
Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd)Leslie’s opponent in the City Council race. A Man Child and Upper-Class Twit.
- Friendly Enemy: He's Leslie's opponent in the council race, but he's incredibly pleasant and friendly towards her regardless — if only because he's apparently too dim to be otherwise.
- Man Child: Unlike most examples, where the character is just incredibly immature, Bobby has so little understanding of how the world works that he often reacts like a five- or six-year-old would.
- Nice Guy: He’s actually very kind and generous, if only because he’s too dumb to have a mean bone in his body.
- Rich Idiot with No Day Job: Runs for City Council to cast off these accusations... which are incredibly true.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Throws money at any problem he comes across.
- Upper-Class Twit
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: The whole reason he ran for city council.
Nick Newport, Jr. (Gary Weeks)Current CEO of Sweetums in season two (until Jessica Wicks replace him). Father of Denver (Ryan Hartwig) and Dakota (Harley Graham). As of season four, he seems to have been Retconned out of existence.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Apparently quietly retconned out of existence.
Other Pawnee Residents
Marcia and Marshall Langman (Darlene Hunt and Todd Sherry)
- “There are girls quivering. There are boys staring deeply into girls’ eyes as they quiver and so forth. There really is a tremendous amount of quivering. It is anti-Christian. It is pro-quivering.”
- Department of Redundancy Department: They're the founding members of the Society for Family Stability Foundation.
- Effeminate Misogynist: Marshall, concurs with Marcia that women should stay home with the kids.
- Female Misogynist: Marcia thinks women should Stay in the Kitchen
- Heteronormative Crusader: Both of them are very conservative when it comes to sex and relationships.
- Insane Troll Logic: Her forte.
- Moral Guardians
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Personified
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: One of Leslie’s.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Believe in this.
Ken Hotate (Jonathan Joss)The Chief of the local Wamapoke tribe. He enjoys inducing White Guilt at every possible opportunity. Leslie was at one point his favorite target, but eventually they jointly figure out ways to weaponize that against some of the nastier people in Pawnee.
- The Barnum: Considers his casino the best way to get back everything Pawneeans stole from the Wamapoke, one quarter at a time.
- The Gadfly: Milks every possible ounce of enjoyment out of watching white Pawneeans squirm and messing with their heads.Ann: Mr Hotate, thanks for coming. Would you like some water?
Ken: Water? Like fire water? That’s racist, and I do not appreciate it.
Ann: No-no-no-no-no, I didn’t mean it like that. I just meant, you know—
Ken: I’m just messing with you.
Ann: Oh my god.
Leslie: He’s funny. This guy’s funny. He does that sometimes.
Ken: But seriously, I’ll have a whiskey.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Weaponized. He knows people are awkward around Native Americans and uses their White Guilt to get his way.
- White Guilt: For both fun and profit, he milks the guilt of most other characters.
Dr. Harris (Cooper Thornton)A doctor and a coworker of Ann's at the local hospital. An incredibly Deadpan Snarker with a terrible bedside manner.
- Comically Inept Healing: Normally quite competent, but every now and then can be shockingly negligent, such as when he fails to check Jerry for mumps.
- Comically Serious
- Deadpan Snarker
- Distracted by the Sexy: While not finding it sexy or arousing, he is fascinated by the size of Jerry's penis.
- Dr. Jerk: His bedside manner is pretty awful.
Li’l SebastianA miniature horse (more specifically, a Shetland pony) that did … something that has endeared him to the residents of Pawnee.
- Back from the Dead: He appears to Leslie and Ben as a sign they should get married. It’s actually a licensed impersonator (imhorseinator?), and his handler tries to tell that to Leslie, but she doesn’t care.
- Character Death: Dies at the end of the third season, and is given a city-funded hero’s funeral. Ron takes his death particularly hard:Ron: When I walked in this morning and saw the flag was at half-mast, I thought ‘all right — another bureaucrat ate it.’ But then, I found out it was Li’l Sebastian. Half-mast is too high. Show some damned respect.
- Gag Penis: Even when pixilated out, it’s played for laughs.
- Serious Business: Everyone in Pawnee adores him. Outsiders don’t really get it, which is a Berserk Button for Pawneeans.
Wyatt “Burly” Burlinson (Andrew Burlinson)Guitarist & backing vocalist (later co-lead) for Mouse Rat.
- All There in the Manual: His full name is never mentioned on the show, with Andy only ever calling him by his nickname. It is, however, on Mouse Rat’s website.
- Neat Freak: According to Andy, though given what a slob Andy is, that may not be the case.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Just known as Burly.
- Satellite Character: Both of them, to Andy. Justified as they're part of his band.
- Straight Man: To Andy in Mouse Rat-centric plots.
Brandi Maxxxx (Mara Marini)Local Pawnee Porn star who also ran for City Council against Leslie Knope and Bobby Newport. Admires Leslie and played her in Too Big to Nail, an adult movie about Leslie saving the Pawnee Videodome. (In fairness, they do look somewhat similar.)
- Abhorrent Admirer: For Leslie. She also, at one point during a debate, said she'd sleep with every one of her opponents.
- Bi the Way: She has no problem casually talking about how she's slept with many men and women. She's either this or gay-for-pay.
- Not So Different: How she sees her and Leslie, though the latter very much disagreed.
- Considering the insane number of adult films Brandi Maxxxx has starred in, she may very well have a work ethic to rival Leslie's.
- Running Gag: Repeatedly compares Leslie’s work in the Parks Department to her work as a porn star, much to Leslie’s disagreement and horror.
- Too Much Information: Her comments about her career are usually irrelevant to the discussion, and unwanted by Leslie.
- Unwanted Assistance: Every time she tries to help out Leslie, Leslie wants no part of it.
Orin (Eric Isenhower)Orin is April's very quiet, very creepy friend. He seldom speaks and often stares at people and makes them feel uncomfortable. Everybody except April dislikes him, with Leslie even outwardly insulting him. He once had a performance art show, where he was an animal living on a human farm.
- Anvilicious: He's not especially subtle. At the previously mentioned farm art show:Orin: (in a sheep costume) Moo...moo...
Leslie: Shut up, Orin. Aren't you supposed to be a sheep?
Orin: No. You are.
- Butt Monkey: He's an even bigger one than Jerry. He creeps everyone out so much that they all talk bad about him. Leslie especially, who will yell at him and insult him directly, and advises April to stay away from him.
- Creepy Shadowed Undereyes
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette
- The Stoic
Dennis Feinstein (Jason Mantzoukas)A perfume mogul who lives in Pawnee.
- Atrocious Alias: Ben doesn't get why he chose the name Dennis Feinstein, and thinks it was a bad change.
- Awesome McCoolname: His real name is Dante Fiero, but he changed it to Dennis Feinstein because sounding Jewish is more exotic in Pawnee. Tom approves.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He just wants to earn as much money as possible, anything else is completely inconsequential.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Alludes to having done this on a vacation and tries to hire Tom to be his next target.
- Jerkass: Makes every other jerk on this show look like a sweet pussycat.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: He brags about paying $25,000 to hunt a man on a vacation.
Barney Varmn (John Balma)An accountant who is employed at the Tilton & Radomski firm, he is first introduced when Leslie hires him for an accounting presentation to lighten up her party. It doesn't work.
- Abhorrent Admirer: A male, non-romantic example for Ben.
- Butt Monkey: Is never able to get Ben to stick around at the jobs he hires him for and treated as weird and/or a bore by other characters.
- Incredibly Lame Fun: Often needlessly excited by his accounting job, bursts into fits at Ben’s admittedly mediocre accounting puns and enjoys Cones of Dunshire.
- Running Gag: Hires Ben for various jobs, only to be crushed when he quits a few days later.
Trevor Nelsson (Marc Evan Jackson)A high-priced Pawnee lawyer who works for many of Pawnee’s wealthier families, namely the Newports and the Sapersteins.
Jennifer Barkley (Kathryn Hahn)A straight-forward, fierce Washington political strategist who is first introduced in Season 4 to run Bobby Newport’s campaign for City Council.
- The Ace: Intelligent, confident, reads international newspapers, is a big political muckety-muck in Washington. She ran two Republican congressional campaigns, a Senate race and gave Leslie and Ben a real run for their money when she opposed them in the City Council election.
- Career Versus Family: Not a problem with her. The trope is defied because she is completely satisfied she doesn't have kids, especially since she'd have to wear a plastic poncho to cover her clothing.
- The Chessmaster: Makes this comparison in her very first episode.
- Child Hater: Blatantly states she’s happy with her life choices whenever Leslie and Ben’s kids come up and freaks out when she sees one of the triplets.Jennifer: Whoa! What was that? That thing was huge!
- Deadpan Snarker: Common topics she mocks include life in Pawnee and Leslie and Ben’s children.
- Friendly Enemy: Her loudness and willingness to admit she's just in it for the money, she's friendly to Leslie and Ben, and even admits Leslie will be a better Councillor than Bobby Newport.
- Meaningful Name: Jennifer Barkley makes sense for someone who’s as loud and intimidating as a Rottweiler.
- Punch Clock Villain: For the City Council arc. She’s mostly on friendly terms with Leslie and Ben and the entire reason she took the Newport campaign was because they paid her a butt-load of money. After that, she offers Ben a job as a campaign manager at her firm, and subsequently a position as a congressman in the House of Representatives and then Governor of Indiana.
- Only in It for the Money: While it's debatable that she's doing good, this is her motivation.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Loyal and hardworking for the Newport campaign, no qualms about mocking him in private.
- Spirited Competitor: A few times gives Leslie campaign advice, because, to use her chess metaphor, she doesn't have anyone to play against, so has to play against herself.